In ABC notation, each note is represented by a single character, ranging from A to G. A not can also include accidental and duration information. The basic scheme is
Pitch is represented with a simple character. ABC music can range in four octaves; the most common ones are the central ones, represented with simple lowercase and uppercase letters:
C D E F G A B (lower octave) c d e f g a b (higher octave)
Two additional octaves can be represented with the
' characters, so here’s the full range:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C D E F G A B c d e f g a b c' d' e' f' g' a' b'
Accidental symbols immediatley precede the note they alter.
ABC notation works pretty much like a normal score in this respect; notes are assumed to inherit the accidentals of the tune key. For example, with a
K: D in the header), a
C note is assumed to be a
When a note doesn’t respect the key accidentals, accidentals must be indicated explicitly, just like in normal music notation. These are the symbols used:
_ (flat) = (natural) ^ (sharp)
For example, here’s a simple score in the key of
D with 3 notes:
X: 1 K: Dmaj D =C ^E _G
This is how it looks like in a score:
Duration is indicated with simple numbers, placed immediately after the notes.
Any note without explicit duration is assumed to have the default duration, indicated in the
If a number is present, the note duration is the multiple of this number and the default duration.
Here is an example with a quarter note, followed by a half note and and eigth note:
X: 1 K: Dmaj L: 1/8 C2 C4 C
L: field not present, a default duration of
1/8 is assumed.
This is the resulting score:
Here’s an example featuring three notes:
X: 1 L: 1/8 K: Dmaj ^D2 =C E4
The notes are:
And here is a the corresponsing score:
And this is all about notes!